Prisons must not loosen COVID-19 restrictions

Tuesday 21 Apr 2020

The WA Prison Officers’ Union (WAPOU) warns one COVID-19 case inside WA prisons could create a breeding ground for the virus in WA.

WAPOU is urging both the government and Department of Justice to maintain consistent restrictions across all WA prisons to ensure they remain COVID free.

The professionalism of prison officers during this time should be commended, with their commitment to safety resulting in no prisoners contracting the virus.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary Andy Smith said although this is welcoming news, the union is concerned prison management may become complacent and loosen restrictions.

“Now is not the time to become complacent in our prisons, one case inside a jail could create a cluster and cause havoc within the system,” he said.

“This is not an invitation for individual prisons to allow sporting matches or church gatherings to continue during a national COVID-19 lockdown.

“I commend our prison officers for their professionalism in keeping the virus out of our prison system and protecting the health of prisoners and the broader community. As we have seen in the US, once the virus gets into a prison it spreads like wildfire.

“The very nature of prisons means people are in close proximity which makes for the perfect breeding ground for COVID-19.

“I also want to thank our prison officers, who during such difficult times, have been one of the forgotten frontline services in WA.

“Our members still have to front up to a very dangerous environment every day without PPE or assurances that they were not going to bring this virus home to their families, but they have continued to do it safely and professionally, on behalf of all of us at WAPOU, well done.” Mr Smith said.

Media contact: Rebecca Munro 0418 962 542